Executive Board

Current Executive Board

President: Alexandra Soare, M.S.

Secretary: Zuha Imtiyaz, Ph.D.

Treasurer: Nina Rajpurohit

Director of Membership: Emily Smith, Ph.D.

Directors of Programs: Cosette Schneider & Jessica Semel

Director of Social Media & Webmaster: Eposi Elonge, M.S.

Director of Sponsorship: Cali Calarco, Ph.D.



Alexandra Soare, M.S.



Alex is a Microbiology & Immunology PhD student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Her thesis research focuses on host-pathogen interactions during invasive fungal diseases, such as mucormycosis. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Alex worked on a variety of projects related to infectious diseases, including improving adjuvants for vaccine development, engineering antibodies for viral immunotherapy, and studying mechanisms of HIV associated inflammation. Prior to becoming President of the AWIS Baltimore Chapter, she was the Vice President of Social Media. As President, Alex hopes to provide helpful resources and a supportive community for Baltimore women in STEM, as well as other systematically excluded individuals. Connect with her on Twitter @AlexandraYSoare. 


Zuha Imtiyaz, Ph.D.



Zuha received her MSc in Biotechnology from Jamia Hamdard University, India and her Ph.D. from Taipei Medical University, Taiwan. Her doctoral research was based on discovering and designing the novel drugs for osteoporosis. She was associated with several non-profit organizations in her home country. Zuha has been a very active in organizing various cultural and talent events during her bachelors. During her Ph.D. she was the vice-president of international student association. Currently she is a post-doctoral fellow in University of Maryland, Baltimore where her research is studying the various drug delivery carrier against cancer. She believes in encouraging more young girls to choose science and research as a career path and start with the early mentorship.  


Nina Rajpurohit




Cali Calarco, Ph.D.



Cali is a senior postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in the department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Her research focuses on the cell-type selective

changes in mitochondrial dynamics and gene expression in the brain reward regions after exposure to drugs of abuse. Prior to coming to Baltimore, Cali obtained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University for work examining nicotinic acetylcholine receptor expression and function in the regulation of food intake after nicotine exposure. Cali has been volunteering for STEM outreach, diversity, and trainee mentorship and advocacy for more than 10 years in New Haven, CT and Baltimore, MD. Cali is interested in science education, mental health advocacy, community science outreach, and promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM. Outside the lab, Cali enjoys cooking, reading, crafting, listening to podcasts, tap dancing, and exploring Baltimore. Connect with her on Twitter @calilarco.


Cosette Schneider



Cosette Schneider is a graduate student at the University of Maryland Baltimore, where she is pursuing her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Cosette's research interests include infectious disease, vaccinology, and protein chemistry, and she will be selecting a thesis lab this summer. Prior to joining University of Maryland, Cosette received her Bachelor's from Luther College in Biology and spent two years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research developing mRNA and nanoparticle vaccines for malaria. Cosette is passionate about improving scientific literacy in her community and cultivating enthusiasm for STEM among young women, especially from underrepresented communities. In her free time, Cosette can be found volunteering at the Maryland Science Center or at the dog park with her golden retriever. 


Jessica Semel



Jessica Semel is a ScM in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Johns Hopkins University in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the cardiac intermediate filament, desmin, and its modification during different cardiac diseases. Prior to her masters and moving to Baltimore, she completed her bachelors at Stony Brook University and was involved in research focusing on molecularly imprinted biosensors, cancer cell migration, and evolutionary divergence of hoary bat subspecies. She recently became involved in AWIS but hopes to become more involved in the community and to inspire younger generations to explore a future career in science.


Emily Smith, Ph.D.



Emily obtained her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from University of Maryland Baltimore and performed her dissertation work in the lab of Eileen Barry in the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health. Her dissertation focused on how Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) used specific surface-expressed adhesins during pathogenesis using the human enteroid model. She is continuing her research in Eileen's lab studying enteric bacterial pathogenesis in the human enteroid model as a postdoctoral research fellow with the goal to contribute to ETEC and Shigella vaccine development. She is very passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the STEM field and making science accessible for all.  In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors by going camping and hiking, eating lots of ice cream from Bmore Licks, and cuddling with her three cats at home!


Eposi Elonge, M.S.



Eposi received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Salisbury University and Master of Health Science degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore. Her introduction to clinical research came from her current position at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC).  She works as a Research Project Coordinator at UMGCCC, primarily with leukemia and lymphoma clinical trial data. She became involved with AWIS by attending multiple virtual events, and ultimately found a sense of community through the encouragement of the women in the AWIS chapters in the DMV area. During her free time, she enjoys reading, practicing yoga, and trying new restaurants with friends and family. Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eposielonge/